United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
May Minor (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security
Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a period of
disability under Title II of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND REMANDED.
protectively filed her DIB application on September 13, 2012.
(Tr. 10). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to depression and arthritis in right knee. (Tr.
199). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September 1, 2010.
(Tr. 10). This application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. Id.
requested an administrative hearing on April 25, 2013. (Tr.
131-132). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on
November 26, 2013. (Tr. 30-75). At this hearing, Plaintiff
was present and was represented by Laura McKinnon.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) John Massey testified at this hearing.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-four (44)
years old and had an eleventh grade education (Tr. 33).
3, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 10-23). In this decision,
the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status of the Act
through June 30, 2014. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ also
found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since September 29, 2010. (Tr. 12, Finding 2).
next found Plaintiff had severe impairments that included
multiple musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, and a mental
disorder. (Tr. 12, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ
determined those impairments did not meet or medically equal
the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in
Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-21, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform sedentary work except
she can only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or
crawl, but cannot climb ladders, scaffolds, or ropes; and is
limited to work where interpersonal contact is incidental to
the work performed, the complexity of tasks is learned and
performed by rote, few variables, little judgment, and
supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 21, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 22, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as a production worker with approximately 490 such jobs
in Arkansas and 28, 700 such jobs in the nation, inspector
with approximately 160 such jobs in Arkansas and 13, 400 such
jobs in the nation, and production helper with approximate
170 such jobs in Arkansas and 6, 600 such jobs in the nation.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act from September 1, 2010 through the date of the decision.
(Tr. 23, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 4). On August 27, 2015,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-3). On November 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 9, 11. This case is now ready for decision.
reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine
whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010); Ramirez v. Barnhart,
292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough
that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. See Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after
reviewing the record, it is possible to draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§